PHS makes attendance a priority

PHS's attendance policy and App Saturday program seek to hold students accountable for unexcused absences in the upcoming year. (Contributed)

PHS’s attendance policy and App Saturday program seek to hold students accountable for unexcused absences in the upcoming year. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—Pelham High School students will be held to a new standard for school attendance this year after the Board of Education approved a new attendance policy and App Saturday program for making up absences during an Aug. 4 meeting.

According to the new policy, students with more than 10 unexcused absences, or more than six for a semester-long course, will not receive credit, regardless of their grades, Pelham High School Principal Dr. Jason Yohn explained.

“Kids were missing (more than 10) days, and if they had passing grades, (they) passed,” Yohn said, adding not holding students accountable for their unexcused absences “devalues what our teachers are doing in the classroom.”

However, students will have the chance to make up unexcused absences and missed work during App Saturdays: Specially designated time for students to complete assignments they have missed.

“(Teachers) will be able to turn the work in for the kid to complete on Saturday,” Yohn said.

App Saturdays will begin on Oct. 18, after the first grading period, and will be held on a semester basis, meaning missed work from a semester must be made up during that semester, Yohn explained. Attendance reports will be run weekly throughout the year, and students who appear to be developing a pattern of unexcused absences will be notified.

“I think its going to teach the students some responsibility,” Pelham Board of Education President Rick Rhoades said of the new policy and App Saturday program during an Aug. 4 Board of Education meeting.

“We’re trying to provide a valuable education experience for kids,” Yohn said. “We want to have smart, responsible people.”

Yohn said the attendance policy and App Saturday program have been successful in the past and noted it would be “one of the most drastic” policy differences at PHS for the coming year.

“It’s going to upset some people,” Yohn said, but he added, “we’re going to do what we say. I have issues with people not coming to school.”